One of the biggest and most ambitious undertakings by Museum of Brisbane in its 10-year history, which has been three years in the making, Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood will reveal the city’s best kept secret for the very first time on 22 November 2014.
Brisbane-based collector Nicholas Inglis has spent the last two decades acquiring hundreds of motion picture costumes, including signature pieces worn by Judy Garland, Grace Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and Marlon Brando, alongside countless items of memorabilia.
A carefully curated selection of nearly 70 costumes, dozens of accessories and props and more than 100 photographs and sketches from the 1920s to 1960s will feature in Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Highlights include a stunning two-metre wide ball gown from Marie Antoinette (1938) created by the legendary designer Adrian, Gloria Swanson’s elegant pink silk nightgown from Sunset Boulevard (1950) and swimsuits worn by the ‘million dollar mermaid’ of the 1940s and 1950s Esther Williams.
Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood is more than a glittering display of couture creations for the silver screen; it will also take visitors on a journey through this unparalleled period in film history. It was a time when powerful studios owned their stars and cinemas, costume departments employed hundreds of artisans and millions flocked to the movies to escape the harsh realities of the era such as the Great Depression and World War II.
The exhibition is the result of a serendipitous meeting between co-curators, Museum of Brisbane Deputy Director Christopher Salter and fashion curator Dr Nadia Buick. Christopher Salter said both he and Nadia had heard of a mysterious Hollywood collection, rumoured to be stored somewhere in Brisbane.
“Nadia and I met through a mutual friend and had begun conversations about locating this almost mythical collection and investigating its exhibition potential. As luck would have it, it turned out I had a link to Nicholas through Facebook and we were able to reach out to and discuss developing an exhibition,” Mr Salter said.
“To create Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood, we spent hundreds of hours cataloguing the collection and have been working with one of Australian’s leading textile conservators who is slowly bringing the garments back to life.”
“I think visitors will be astounded by the quality of the workmanship in each costume, the corsetry and beading, the luxurious fabrics. People will also be surprised by how colourful some costumes are, considering on screen they only appeared in black and white.”
“There is still so much nostalgia for this period of films, and the costumes and props are a very real but magical link to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, which is very exciting to share with people.”
In contrast to international fashion exhibitions bought in from other museums, this show has been curated by the Museum’s small in-house team and is free to the public.
Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk said the Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood exhibition would be a major drawcard for the city.
“This unique collection of costumes will stand as a wonderful example of the creative and cultural treasures that can be found in our city,” Cr Quirk said. “We are pleased that we have the opportunity to display these costumes for the first time in Australia and that the exhibition will be an Australian exclusive during its run at Museum of Brisbane.”
“An undertaking of this size is an admirable feat for Museum of Brisbane and I congratulate the team on curating this collection which I am sure will bring its visitors great nostalgia.”
Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood
Museum of Brisbane – Level 3, Brisbane City Hall, King George Square, Brisbane
Exhibition: 22 November 2014 – 24 May 2015
For more information, visit: www.museumofbrisbane.com.au for details.
Image: Robe worn by Myrna Loy in I Love You Again and Black silk chiffon dress worn by Lucille Bremer in Ziegfeld Follies, Vincente Minelli and others – photos by Atmosphere Photography